Thursday, February 22, 2018

Running On Glass...

Cheryl is Ready to Run!
A slightly warmer day today.   Cheryl decided that a casual run would help her feel better about the car, the cat, and life in general.   So off we went on the flat trail in Coralville.

Except on the Ice.
The warmer weather we had helped melt much of the ice and snow on the sidewalk.  For the most part, we were able to navigate 70-80% of the trail in its entirety.  The places where the ice was overflowing the sidewalk forced us to walk around.   Maybe the warmer weather will eventually melt it before it freezes things up again.

River of Broken Glass...
Like someone Dropped a Window
On a slightly different note,  we were able to see some of those phenomenons that you only see when outside in the cold.  Namely,  the natural ice sculptures that happen randomly.   I remember when we were kids and used to hunt for rabbits or late season squirrels and see these beautiful snow and ice murals that no one else was privy to.   Like seeing a magic, mythical world that you only read about in stories.  Moments like that are one of the things I miss about hunting.

Ice covering the fields
But now we run and bike in the winter.   It is true that we stay on trails for the most part,  but sometimes we are still able to see things.   I call this one the "River or Broken Glass."   Perhaps you will see why.

He was difficult to film.
Cheryl sees a mouse under the ice
Along the way,  we saw a small vole or mouse or rodent of some kind,  running around under the ice.   I wanted to see if I could grab him,  being the wild school boy that I am...   But Cheryl did not want me to scare or  "torture" the poor creature.  ( I only wanted to pet it..... No damage done there.)  I'm guessing he might have been protected from Owls or Hawks... but not a fox or coyote if one was in the area.   That ice  was not very thick.

You can see his fur against the ice.
I wanted to pet him.  Cheryl says "No!"
The Ice did not offer much protection.
The temps are currently hovering just above freezing.   Cheryl even had to take off her outer coat to finish the run. ( 7 miles today!  Yeah!) I'm hoping that the 35 degrees is enough to remove what little ice is left on the sidewalk.   Anything that will allow Cheryl to avoid hills for a while is a good thing in my book.  And if she can remain pain-free while she prepares for her next run,   that would help as well.  Fingers crossed.

Tracking down the Idle Issue.  Like chasing a Ghost!
And one small note.   24 hours without the Check engine light on.   I think that is a milestone somehow.  I know that it is possible that it will flash again,  and I'm trying to prepare for it mentally.   We continue to chase ghosts in Subie as he hesitates and surges as we run around.   Cheryl has several more sensor ideas to replace before we throw up our hands in defeat.  Actually, we have done that several times over the pas year....  but those don't count. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Solving The Subie Problems One Sensor At A Time...

I can fix the car again! And why not? 
Replacing "Cheap O2 sensor" with New
I just finished installing a new Oxygen Sensor in the Subaru.   And for the first time in YEARS....  the Check engine light has gone off.   Even after installing a new O2 sensor a year ago,  the check engine light did not stay off for very long.  I was informed that the Heater in the sensor was always going to fail...even on the new ones.   And that it was not that big of a deal.  What can I say,  I'm no mechanic.  I'll defer to their judgement.
I guess Subie's Prefer this brand.

But then we read that Subaru is pretty specific in his O2 Sensor brands.  Cheryl thought that it was time to finally see if that was one of the reasons the strange idle was happening.  And if we could finally fix that annoying Check Engine light... all the better.
Hmm,  Kinda Dirty. 

It was not to bad to remove.   It was nice having done it before, so I had a running understanding of the job.   And I knew that I had put the anti-seize on the threads last time, allowing for easy removal.
Say goodbye to the Check Engine Light.
Upon pulling it out I could see that it was, indeed, dirty.  I'm not sure if that was because of the heater element not working or something else.   However, I tested the sensor on my desk and discovered that it was not offering any resistance!   I wonder how long it had been really broke?
My New Subaru Toy.

Swap out the old with the new and start it up.   Things are working as they should and the check engine light is finally off!   In addition, I also hooked up a cheap car reader to see if there were any other problems.   So far... so good.

We shall see for how long...
I'm not sure how long the check engine light will stay off.  Or if the new brand of O2 sensor will continue to last.  But for the moment,  the idle, steering, front head light and check engine light are fixed.  (Or at least running better than they were...)

Replacing Burned out Console lights
And while I'm on the subject,  Cheryl told me I had to confess to all my transgressions while dealing with the car problems.  Like a doctor who dropped a junior mint into a patient,   I always end up doing something "bad" while operating on the Subie.   Case in point,  I had to replace a console light in the dash. (It ended up being two lights that were burned out.)
To get there, I have to remove all this stuff!

Careful not to drop any fasteners... DOH!

I still manage to screw things up though.
 In the process of taking the dash apart,  I cracked one of the panels.   Nothing big,  but I was being so careful....  I also always lose a screw or a clip whenever I work on body parts.  No matter how careful I am,  a screw or clip fall into the abyss behind the dash.  Grrr!

Where did I put that thing? 
Also,,  I purchased a special tool to help get that O2 sensor off last time.  And would you guess it,  I managed to "misplace" it before I had a chance to use it again.   So yesterday we bought another "O2 Removal Tool" and that is when I found the old one.  It figures that I would tear the house apart looking for it, only to find it after I had already spent $13 on a new one.
Maybe after all parts are in. 

So we shall see how things go.  Cheryl has some additional sensors arriving in a few days, so that will another opportunity to fix or break things further.

Subaru Secret Handshake. I feel so special...
  I'll hold off on the "Secret Subie Handshake"  until all of the parts are on and assembled.  I love secret handshakes.   It makes me feel like I'm part of a secret Subaru society that set us apart from Ford and Chevy people. 
 Like a silent form of snobbery that I normally can't display in public. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Subie's Power Steering Flush On A Rainy Iowa Day.

It really was Easy.  Quick?  Kinda. 
Cheryl has finally succumbed to my nagging and allowed me to touch the car once again.  Today, I attempted my first Power Steering Flush.  Similar to a coolant flush, oil change, and Brake shoe replacement, I have never attempted one of these "simple tasks".... until I DID!
Don't be this guy....
Now I can pretend to be one of those super annoying people who rave how "easy" it is and how you are wasting your money by not doing such a simple task yourself.  ( I hate those guys!)

The Drama Cat!
Between the car, the cat, and the Wife...  It appears as if I'm the only person with a solid footing on reality, here.   Everyone around me is so dramatic!   The cat coughs like he has a permanent hair ball, 
I should say: let's me FIX my Subaru.
  Subie hesitates and groans when he turns or the weather changes, and Cheryl complains about her legs being useless for running.  I can't fix everyone at once!  So I'll start with the one I care about most:  The Car!    
   (I should say,  Attempt to fix....Just want to clear that up.)

I think I can do it for less.  
It really is pretty straight forward.   Simply hook up a hose to the return line,  turn on the car,  turn the wheel until the fluid is empty, button up and refill.  There are a number of  different ways to do it.  Some more complex than others... But that is the gist of it. I chose to flush a little clean stuff through while turning the wheel, just so the system would not run dry.  But all in all,  I think it was a success.  Nothing seems broken.   The car turns smoothly.  No really loud sounds happen when I turn. And the hesitation seems to be gone once again.  Fingers crossed that it lasts this time.   So far.... so good.  (Did I mention I didn't break it further this time? I'm always impressed when I don't break the Subie more!

With 2 quarts of power steering fluid and about 6 feet of  3/4 inch clear plastic hose,  I'll say I invested about $7-8 bucks.  One of the main reasons for my DIY is to save money.  The Other is to not look like an idiot that can't fill his own gas tank or change his own tire.  (If you are one of those people,  Don't be offended...  just take the bus or subway.) 

Two days ago... SNOW!
Today!   RAIN!  with shorts.

Cheryl  soldiers on with her new rain gear.
Slowing down in the fog.

As for the Iowa Weather....  It's raining.   Two days ago.   Snow!   Today,   Rain and 53 degrees. Most of the snow is gone and I'll wager that there will be flood warnings before the end of the night.  Word has it it will drop back down below freezing two days from now.   That should be loads of fun! 
Avoiding puddles.

The pace and the rain pick up just as we finish.  
Still, the warm weather allowed Cheryl to dress up in her spring running attire.   Even though it was not exactly the perfect running weather,  the warmer temps were more  welcome when compared to the cold snow, ice, and wind.  We almost completed the run before the rain started back up, but it has been a while since we ran in the rain.  Luckily, we were dressed for it and did not have to experience the typical misery. 

I'm still impressed that I got the power steering system flushed before it started to rain again. I was almost finished when it really began to come down.  Perhaps there will be thunder and lightning tonight.   It's always fun to sleep during a thunder storm.   As long as there is no flooding going on.   Thanks for stopping in. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Being Demoted From My "Mr. Fix-it" Title.

You can no longer "fix" the car. 
Like a General who has lost one too many battles,  I have been demoted to a desk job or "adviser" position, or something like that. Specifically,  I have lost Cheryl's faith in my ability to fix the Subaru.   I'll be the first to admit, my own confidence in my ability has it's limits.   I know when I am out of my league most of the time.  But now,  Cheryl assumes that not only will I not be able to fix the Subie...  I'll most likely break it further.    This change in events has seriously bruised my already damaged ego.
Chasing down the Subaru Problem is like this. 

But what am I to do?   I can hardly do much here in Wellman, Iowa with this fickle weather and limited arsenal of tools at my disposal.   Subie is, indeed, old.    A 2003 with well over 250,000 miles is already well past most of his peers on the American side.  Add in the hot, cold, damp, and dry weather changes we have been going through and you can see that pegging down his symptoms is akin to throwing darts blindfolded in a hurricane.

I think I know the problem...  or at least one of them. 
This is all because the other day,  we thought we had fixed the Subie's chronic left turn issue.   It lasted two days.   Today, not only did it revert back to the old "studder studder" on left turns,   he also stalled as we tried to start him up.   Very frustrating! 

I took out the Power steering pressure sensor and cleaned it off,  and temporarily fixed the problem...  but this now means that we will have to flush the power steering fluid and replace with new.   Something Cheryl does not want me to attempt!  To be honest,  I'm not sure I could pull it off in my driveway outside anyway.
Must be nice having all that stuff.
  Add in that it is supposed to rain tomorrow, and things could get really messy. Of course the Mechanics  in Iowa City can do a better job...  with their tools and  well-lit garage.    But all of this bother could really be several separate issues all piling up to confuse us and cause insomnia on a daily level.  I'm convinced that the Mechanics are convinced that Cheryl and I are simply crazy! 
Perhaps this is the cause of the stalling?

Cheryl has a new O2 Sensor coming, because we still can not seem to make that code go away.   At the very least, I know how to change that one.  Assuming Cheryl will allow me to touch Subie under the hood ever again.

If only things could get fixed..and stay that way!
So for the remainder of the day,  I will stop looking for You Tube "How to fix your broken, aging Subaru" videos and focus on other things.   I should note that Cheryl was able to run... a little today.   Her knee began bothering her again.  Coincidentally at the same time we realized Subie was not fixed.  I can only guess if there is a correlation.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Transferring Cheryl's Running Ability To Subie

Things were looking so positive.
 And we had such big plans for this weekend....   Cheryl was going to run in the sweetheart Race that was canceled last weekend in Kansas City.  And everything was looking So well! Cheryl's leg has been getting better;  The weather has been warming up; We even had Subie looked over by the Mechanic for his rough cold weather start;  and we were hopeful for a second chance to get that medal.   And then...
Warmer weather, better running...

The code that the Mechanic pulled from the computer was an "Irregular idle" code.   And Cheryl was wondering what could have caused that.    She begins to investigate and discovered we have done or replaced everything on the list... Except the Power Steering Pressure Sensor.  Now, if you are like me,  you will ask: How does the power steering Pressure Sensor have anything to do with the idle of your car? 
    Small Power Steering Sensor... Problems?    

New Power Steering pump.. PSPS not included.
Apparently,  the Power Steering Pressure Sensor detects the torque your power steering  pump is exerting on the engine... and the message is sent back to the computer,  who quickly calculates the amount of fuel you will need to keep your engine alive. And if there is a break in the system...  your poor computer has to "guess" and usually ends up guessing wrong.  Causing you to hesitate on left turns in front of cement trucks that are driving 10 miles over the speed limit!

Why this is important!!!!
Well, we had all the symptoms!  (Including the cement truck one!) and figured it was time to get it looked at with our new theory.   I think the mechanics thought we were nuts.  "Car Hypochondriacs!" was possibly the title we had been labeled.   We did not want to bother them much, so, the morning of our appointment,  We dropped in on NAPA and bought a new power steering pump, figuring that the sensor came along with a rebuild.
Early Morning to NAPA>

It did NOT!   The mechanics at least helped us in finding where the sensor was located and suggested we search the salvage yards for a donor.   We found one and it would arrive by Friday.   We bought it.
Hmm  Isn't this a little high for an Idle?

And here is where the "tough choices" had to be made.   If the part arrives on Friday, we will not be able to attend the race on Saturday.  In fact, we would have to cancel the hotel and everything else.  To add to the "don't go" side,  Subie suddenly began acting sporadic with the idle going crazy in the parking lot... something he has not done for a long time. I think it was the mechanic meddling with the sensor while showing us the location and making the connection secure. Either way,  Cheryl Freaks out!
Some of our best thinking is done at Dunkin'.

Over Donuts, we decide that the best course of action was to cancel the race and see if we can get Subie back up and running. We did not want to have Subie stall or break on us while in a foreign state.  It was a heart breaking decision, that Cheryl immediately began questioning the moment she hung up the phone. All night she was bothered wondering if she had done the right thing.  So what to do on our newly freed-up Friday...

Might as well eat Pizza.

Brings back memories.
Go to Iowa City and Eat Pizza!   Might as well.   We did nothing the previous day except worry about everything.  After the Pizza, we picked up the part from the scrap yard and headed to Central Auto.   Asking if they could fit us in.   They could. ( Great guys!)  And told us they would put the part in for free and see about total pump replacement later if the sensor did not solve the problem.   Cheryl noted that the Subster was sounding funny around the wheels and if they could look things over underneath.
Another Problem?   Better get that fixed as well. 

Turns out,  all that crazy worry, ghost chasing, and gremlin sounds that had been pestering us was the front ball joint about to fail!  We get that fixed along with an alignment.... and they would still put the sensor in for free.   Several hours later,   about 30 minutes after quitting time,  they give us our car back.   I felt bad that what had been a 10 minute job for them ended up taking all day...  But subie was back on track.  And now for the true test:  Turning left!
Subie Almost as good as new.

FIXED!   Subie can now turn left without hesitation.   I'm so exhausted I can't fully express my feelings.   Ultimately I think this was all set in motion so we could head a serious problem off at the pass before it became .... serious.   No one wants to get stranded several hours away from home on a weekend when no one is available to help you. The Ball Joints were the Serious Problem,  the Sensor was simply chronic... but still bothersome.   So Cheryl ended up giving  up her run to get the car running.  I think that is poetic.   And a great title for a Blog posting.  YEAH!


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